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AMMAN, August 12, 2018 (News Wires) - Four members of the Jordanian security forces and three "terrorists" have been killed during a raid on a militant hideout after an officer died in a bomb blast near the capital, the government said on Sunday.

Five suspects were also arrested during Saturday's raid in connection with the home-made bomb that exploded under a patrol car at a music festival.

A joint unit of special forces, police and army troops raided a house in the town of Salt northwest of Amman in search of a suspected "terrorist cell", government spokeswoman Jumana Ghneimat said.

She said the militants were sought in connection with Friday night's bombing that killed a police sergeant and wounded six others in the town of Al-Fuhais west of Amman.

"The suspects refused to surrender and opened heavy fire towards a joint security force," Ghneimat said on Saturday.

They also "blew up the building in which they were hiding, and which they had booby-trapped earlier", she added.

Three members of the security forces were killed in the shootout with the gunmen who were holed up in an apartment in a four-storey residential bloc in Salt, she said in a statement.

A fourth who was critically wounded died of his injuries on Sunday, she added.

The bodies of three "terrorists" as well as automatic weapons were found under the rubble of the building, and a total of five militants were arrested during the operation, Ghneimat said.

Bomb blasts targeting security forces are rare in Jordan, although the small desert kingdom bordering Syria and Iraq has had to struggle with a rise in Muslim fundamentalism in recent years.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday's bomb blast in Al-Fuhais, a mostly Christian town, and the identities of the suspects were not known.

"A clean-up operation is still under way," Ghneimat said, adding that units of the civil defence were at the scene to assess the damage at the building and sift through the rubble.

Ghneimat urged civilians to stay away, warning that "it could totally collapse at any minute".

An excavator was later seen demolishing the structure.

CAIRO, August 9, 2018 (MENA) - Petroleum and Mineral Resources Minister Tarek el Mulla probed with Jordanian Minister of Energy and Mineral Resources Hala Zawati work progress in implementing joint strategic projects to secure the provision of diversified sources of energy especially natural gas to meet their needs.

The two sides also discussed means of benefiting from expertise and abilities of the Egyptian firms to carry out the infrastructure work needed to supply natural gas to the Jordanian cities based on Egypt's experience in this domain.

During the talks, several agreements and memorandums of understanding (MoUs) were signed between the natural gas companies of both countries in the fields of operating and maintaining pipelines and oil and gas distribution networks, said a statement issued by the Petroleum Ministry on Thursday.

Mulla stressed the importance of enhancing bilateral cooperation in light of the unique ties binding the two countries, noting that the entry of the Egyptian gas firms to the Jordanian market is a good move that would be of benefit to both countries. For her part, Zawati stated that joint ventures will be pushed forward during the coming phase, and she added that these projects would promote bilateral economic relations especially that energy is a cornerstone of development.

She further hailed the unique expertise of the Egyptian petroleum companies, expressing appreciation of Egypt's tangible efforts to develop its partnership with Jordan.

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM/AMMAN, July 22, 2018 (Reuters) - Jordan said on Sunday 800 people including members of Syria’s “White Helmets” civil defense group had been evacuated from southwest Syria where Damascus’ forces are advancing against rebels, with Israeli officials saying they facilitated the mission.

The Israeli military said that overnight it had completed “a humanitarian effort to rescue members of a Syrian civil organisation and their families ...due to an immediate threat to their lives”.

It said they were transferred to a neighboring country, which it did not identify.

On Saturday, Israeli security forces closed down roads in the occupied Golan Heights, on the Syrian frontier, ahead of the evacuation operation.

A Jordanian foreign ministry spokesman said the kingdom had allowed the UN to arrange the entry and passage of 800 Syrian civil defense workers. said their lives were in danger after a government offensive that regained rebel-held parts of southern Syria.

The kingdom agreed to a request by Britain, Germany and Canada to give the White Helmet workers temporary asylum in the kingdom before settlement in the West on humanitarian grounds, spokesman Mohammad al Kayed said.

He said the aid workers would remain at a “closed” location and that Britain, Germany and Canada had agreed to resettle them within three months.

Officially called the Syrian Civil Defense but known by their distinctive white helmets, the group has operated a rescue service in rebel-held parts of Syria after aerial bombing of civilian areas. They are credited for saving thousands of lives.

AMMAN, July 8, 2018 (News Wires) - Almost all the Syrians who fled an army offensive in the southwest to gather in a free trade zone at the Jordanian border have gone back into Syria, a senior UN official said on Sunday.

Several thousand people had congregated near the Nassib-Jaber crossing. Only about 150-200 remained there, said Anders Pedersen, the UN resident and humanitarian coordinator in Jordan.

The United Nations says the Russian-backed offensive against insurgents has uprooted more than 320,000 people in the past two weeks, the biggest exodus of the seven-year war.

Around 60,000 have sought shelter near the border with Jordan and thousands more at the frontier with the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.

Both Israel and Jordan said they would not let refugees in. They beefed up their borders and distributed some aid inside Syria.

Syrian government forces deployed at the Nassib crossing on Saturday, seizing a vital trade route that rebels held for three years.

Pedersen called for access to people in the Syrian provinces of Deraa and Quneitra, adding that an aid convoy was waiting to go to Mtaaiya village, which the army took in recent days.

"What we are asking for: unimpeded access" to southwest Syria, he told a news conference on Sunday.

He said there were protection concerns about the safety of displaced Syrians returning home.

Rebels agreed on Friday to give up arms in a Russian-brokered ceasefire deal, surrendering their parts of Deraa in another victory for President Bashar al-Assad and his allies.

BRUSSELS, July 6, 2018 (News Wires) - A suspect in the Paris and Brussels terror attacks has been identified by Belgian police as having been among a group of Islamic State extremists who burned a Jordanian pilot alive in a cage.

Osama Krayem, a Swede of Syrian origin, has been held in Belgium since 2016 and could face war crimes charges over the murder of Maaz al-Kassasbeh, whose grisly death was filmed and put online in an incident that came to symbolise some of the worst excesses of the IS group.

Krayem is suspected of playing a key role in the jihadist cell behind the attacks in Paris, which killed 130 people, and Brussels, which left 32 people dead. Both were claimed by IS.

Now investigators have linked him to the killing of Kassasbeh, who was captured when his plane came down in an IS-held part of Syria in December 2014.

“We have been able to establish that he was there,” a source close to the Belgian probe told AFP on Friday, saying Krayem could be prosecuted for a “crime against humanity”.

Krayem, like other members of the Paris-Brussels cell, travelled to fight for IS in Syria in 2014 before apparently hiding himself among migrants in order to return to Europe from Syria in 2015.

According to Belgian newspaper La Derniere Heure, Belgian police have identified Krayem as actively taking part in the killing.

The video of Kassasbeh’s murder outraged Jordan, which stepped up air strikes on IS and executed two convicted jihadists on death row in response.

AMMAN, July 5, 2018 (News Wires) - Jordanian mediation has brought Syrian rebel negotiators back to the table with Russian officers to discuss a final deal to end fighting and restore Syrian state control of Deraa province, a Syrian opposition spokesman said.

Ibrahim al Jabawi said the two sides were expected to hold talks this evening in the southern town of Busra al Sham. Four rounds of talks have been held there since Saturday, without reaching agreement.

Rebel officials say the main differences include whether the rebels surrender their weapons in one go or in phases, before handing over their areas to state control under Russian military police supervision.

Jordan has played a leading role behind the scenes in persuading Free Syrian Army rebels, whom it and Western powers have long supported, to reach a deal with Russia that could spare southern Syria more bloodshed and destruction.

Tens of thousands of Syrians have fled the fighting in the region toward Jordan’s border.

Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi held talks on Wednesday in Moscow, where he warned a humanitarian crisis threatened to unfold on the border and said a ceasefire was urgently needed.

On Thursday, Russian planes hit areas close to the Jordanian border. A major battle was raging in an air base on the outskirts of Deraa city, only a few kilometers (miles) from Jordan’s northern city of Ramtha, residents and diplomats said.

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